Crews Still Working On Roads, Weather Too Cold For Salt To Be Effective (VIDEO)

By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

January 7, 2014 Updated Jan 8, 2014 at 12:10 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – Although plow and salt crews with the Indiana Department of Transportation have been out non-stop, INDOT officials still urge people to stay off the roads.

Officials said Monday evening that the travel watch for Allen County has been extended until further notice. That means they’re still encouraging people to stay off the roads. Officials with INDOT say the roads are driveable, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe.

Mary Foster, a spokesperson for INDOT, says crews have made progress plowing the roads but, “extremely hazardous icy conditions remain, and conditions may worsen overnight.”

Foster says plow and salt crews have been working non-stop in 12-hour shifts since late Saturday night. But, sub-zero temperatures over the last two days have made the rock salt, or sodium chloride, drivers are lying down ineffective.

Foster says the snow is packed down on the roads underneath the ice. To combat the conditions, crews have mixed the rock salt with calcium chloride, which is supposed to help make the salt work better in lower temperatures.

Regular rock salt only works down to 20 degrees above zero, but Foster says even then it takes approximately 20 minutes to embed itself into the snow and begin to melt it. However, Foster says when the rock salt is infused with liquid calcium chloride, it begins to melt the ice and snow on the roads immediately, even in zero degree temperature.

Unfortunately, Foster says even the rock salt-calcium chloride mixture has lost its effectiveness in the sub-zero temperatures, which is why drivers might not have been seeing a difference on the roadways.

Now, Foster says, crews are preparing the roads for the warmer temperatures Wednesday.

"We're trying to keep pushing back the snow that we've plowed already and get the shoulders ready because when the temperature comes up tomorrow, we're going to be hitting this hard. We are going to be hitting it with more salt, and we will finally make some really good progress, we think, tomorrow,” said Foster.

In the meantime, officials are asking people to only be on the roads if absolutely necessary.

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